A Look Back: T.I.’s Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Released: November 30, 2004

Singles: “Bring Em Out” (2004), “U Don’t Know Me” (2005) and “ASAP” (2005)

Sales: Platinum

My Thoughts: After T.I. was arrested for a probation violation stemming from a 1997 arrest, many wondered what would become of his career. He was originally sentenced for three years in prison but after serving a month, he was granted work release so that he could continue working on music. Around this time, T.I.’s publicized beef with Houston’s Lil Flip was taking shape as the crown for “King Of The South” was up for grabs. With the success of T.I.’s sophomore album Trap Muzik, how would T.I. fare on this third release, Urban Legend? Let’s review this ten year old album and find out.

Urban Legend‘s debut single was the Swizz Beatz’s produced “Bring Em Out“. Swizz used a sample of Jay-Z’s “What More Can I Say that fueled T.I. aggression towards those that had doubts about him (“TIP comin live from the VIP, heard the night life lost life without me/Both the Feds and the State wanna see bout me/The whole city got bizzerk he got treat/Anotha nigga got a hit but shawty he not me/Who set the city on fire as soon as he got freed/Da king back now broads don’t even know how to act now/Hit the club, strippers gettin’ naked ‘fore I sat down/Still ballin money stack taller than Shaq now“) Great way to get this ball rolling. The video was shot in Atlanta and directed by Fat Cats with appearances by DJ Drama, Jazze Pha and Swizz Beatz. T.I. also pays homage to Jay-Z by wearing a shirt with the Reasonable Doubt album on the front. “Bring Em Out reached number 9 on the Billboard Top 100, number 6 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number 4 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs charts.

At the end of the “Bring Em Out” video, T.I. had a mini video for “U Don’t Know Me“, which would be released as his second single. This single was produced by DJ Toomp and shows T.I. addressing those looking for a free ride from the Atlanta rapper and he’s letting them know it won’t happen there (“We can end the speculation cuz today we gone see/What’s the future of a pussy nigga hatin’ on me/I give a fuck about the FED’s investigation on me/I don’t care that they at my shows and they waitin’ on me/I’mma keep on flossin’, poppin’ long as Toomp is on the beat/Tell police’s I ain’t stoppin’, I’mma keep it in the streets/Contrary to yo beliefs, I’m as real as you can be/Fuck yo thoughts and yo feelings, nigga you don’t know me“). The video was shot around in Atlanta and shows T.I. rapping with various groups of people. “U Don’t Know Me reached to number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 6 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number 4 on the Hot Rap Songs. The final single was “ASAP” with the b-side being “Motivation“. “ASAP” was produced by Sanchez Holmes and the third verse is aimed at Lil Flip (“O.G. status, I don’t beef unless I need to/Sissy you way outta line and you runnin’ outta time/Hang behind closed do’s when ya heard I got some time/Yeah I know you were thinkin’ outa sight and outa mind/But I’m the wrong one for you to try if you were tryna shine“). “Motivation” should be everyone’s song that gets them up and going on the daily. Here, T.I. still wasn’t backing down as he was in your face saying that he’s going to be on top (“Motivation/Niggas fakin’ only gonna inspire (Motivation)/All yo hatin’ in fuel to my fire (It’s motivation)/Niggas plottin’ on the crown salt droppin’ (It’s motivation)/Hey but I ain’t slowin’ down and I ain’t stoppin’ (Motivation)/Now nigga don’t stop my show (Motivation)/You ain’t know I don’t stop, I go (It’s motivation)/Sucka niggas can’t make me suffer/Just make me stronger and make me tougher (It’s motivation)“). “ASAP” reach number 75 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 18 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number 14 on the Hot Rap Songs. (“Motivation” charted at number 62 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) The “ASAP” portion of the video had T.I. being wanted by the police and Mike Epps had a cameo in the video. The “Motivation” portion of the video shows T.I. turning in to the police then rapping in prison then he was released.

Urban Legend is one of my favorite albums from T.I. It gave listeners more great music as Atlanta was rising to the top of the music chain. Any doubts of T.I. holding the crown as ‘King Of The South’ should have been squashed as T.I. sets the album off with “Tha King” (“I’m king of the south now, but theres fifty states/Cause I’m gonna spread out and I’ll eliminate who in the way/I’m 24 today, give to I’m 28/I’ll be ruler of all that I survey and not just in the state/See I bend just to win, but I ain’t finna break/Most you niggas fake, and I’ll say it in ya face”). Another track that I enjoyed was “Prayin’ For Help” as T.I. he looks for direction to the right way of living (“Ay it’s so many times, I done wish I could change my mind/Change my life and leave the game behind/And it’s been so many days, I done prayed I could find a way/Find a heart and the time to say, only so many are blessed/With so many chances, and so many checks, so many fans/With so many arrest, and it’s been so many deaths/So many prisons with niggas in there/And the system keep playin’ them to the left, man it’s so many tests“)

“Ay, I wanna see you dance like them girls in that Tip Drill video…” – T.I. from “Get Loose” feat. Nelly

There were tracks aimed at club play like the Nelly featured “Get Loose” and the Mannie Fresh featured “The Greatest” (“Diamonds in my bracelet shine like a Kodak flash/Just motivation for these freaky hoes to show that ass nigga/I pop tags on a throwback fast/Nigga please, I’m wearin’ these when I cut my grass… freeze/All you niggas wanna touch my cash/The 40 cal’s in the stash, and when I touch I blast“). Scott Storch gave T.I. one with “Get Your Shit Together where he tells others to get on his level when it comes to the cash (“With a style as mean as the Earth seem/Chest on ice, and my wrist on gleam/30 karats in the ring, money ain’t no thing/You think I’m playin’ but I ain’t joking/The dro king, if it ain’t purple, I ain’t smoking/Rubberband bank rolls, fifty thousand dollar cheddar knots/Try to shine, is you out your mind, boy you better not“). Pharrell sings a falsetto hook on “Freak Though” as T.I. sings about falling in love with a promiscuous woman (“The main thing making niggas judge you/Is the same thing that make me wanna love you/From the smell of ya hair, I wanna hug you/To the way you yell “give it to me” when I fuck you/Plus you ain’t tripping off a nigga cause he thuggin/That’s why I’m twice as happy as relationships that wasn’t/But my partna say you trickin wit his cousin/But nevermind, I don’t listen they be buggin“).

Urban Legend showed T.I.’s growth as an artist but he still had the streets near to his heart. The production was solid and it was a great listen from beginning to end. If you ask fans about this album and many will say that it ranks at the top for them. It’s one of many hip-hop albums that I keep it rotation.